Manchester City misfit Robinho could make his farewell appearance for the club in Wednesday night's Carling Cup semi-final against Manchester United before moving to Santos.
A source close to Robinho, who has failed to impress at Eastlands following his £32.5 million transfer from Real Madrid in September 2008, told Soccernet: "We shall all be surprised if he is not on the bench. The deal with Santos is close, very close, but not concluded.
"So there is no reason why Roberto Mancini won't have him on the bench, and therefore it is quite possible he will play some part in the game before he goes to Santos."
The wantaway Brazilian revealed at the weekend that he hoped to return to his boyhood club, but will have to pay his own way as Santos are refusing to pay the player's £160,000-a-week wages - a part of which is raised through sponsorship.
The source said: "Robinho wants to go home, but he will have to pay for it, as he will take a big hit on his salary."
Robinho began his career with Santos and won the Campeonato Brasileiro in 2002 and 2004 before moving to Real Madrid in 2005.